FAN NEWS & BLOGS

Too close to call?

There seems to me to be a mood amongst some pundits that Roberto Mancini's men just have to turn up next week to beat the champions. Of course, the Blues have an outstanding home record but that is matched by the Reds' fine away form this season. Let's also not forget that United have beaten City twice this season, in the Community Shield and the FA Cup.

- Stewart Gardner, MUTV

23/04/2012 08:30, Report by Stewart Gardner
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Blog: Derby fever

This is going to be a long week.

Over the past few years, it seems every Manchester derby has been billed as "the biggest ever". This one really will be, and the hype will be cranked up to the maximum level.

There seems to me to be a mood amongst some pundits that Roberto Mancini's men just have to turn up next week to beat the champions. Of course, the Blues have an outstanding home record but that is matched by the Reds' fine away form this season. Let's also not forget that United have beaten City twice this season, in the Community Shield and the FA Cup.

The Blues have been playing in a pressure-free way of late after thinking that the title was lost. Now they will face the weight of expectancy hence Mancini's increasingly tiresome "only United can win the title" mantra before and after every game.

A couple of months ago, I would have snapped your hand off to be three points clear of City going into the derby. And just imagine how sweet a victory would be in East Manchester next week? Yes, the mathematicians would tell you that the title wouldn't be wrapped up but everyone knows it would be. Winning the title (almost) in City's backyard, now there's a thought.
 
Whenever anyone has asked me who my Player of the Year has been this season, I've always unhesitatingly said Wayne Rooney. He is the complete package - goals, creativity, drive and energy. If United do win the title he would have scored more than twice as many goals as the second highest goalscorer. He hasn't been dazzling in every game but where would we be this season without him?

For me, Rooney also scored the Goal of the Season - the header against City in the FA Cup in January. He swept the ball from midfield wide to Valencia, sprinted into the area and met the winger's cross with a crashing header off the crossbar, classic Rooney.

The same scenario again at the same venue in a week's time would be perfect.

Stewart Gardner presents The Paddy Crerand Show, Monday evenings at 18:30 BST.

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